Thursday, May 12, 2011

Why Career and Technical Education Should Be a Priority for the U.S.

I read an opinion article on Mashable written by Bob Regan, the Director of Worldwide Primary and Secondary Education at Adobe Systems that I wanted to share with you.

As Regan states:

For today’s students, the experience of going to school can feel like flying in an airplane, minus the excitement of travel. Students enter a world cut off from their own where they are asked to turn off all electronic devices. They can feel trapped, simply staring straight ahead for hours. Without a clear sense of where they are going, many U.S. students simply opt to get off the plane.

In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama said, “… If we want to win the future — if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas — then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.” However, the United States now graduates less than 75% of its students. Worse, in sixteen of the biggest cities, the graduation rate is less than 50%.
When Regan discusses Career and Technical Education, he states:
Today’s vocational programs, often referred to as “Career and Technical Education” or CTE, have seen significant gains. The programs start with a specific career focus, such as health sciences, business, or technology. CTE programs provide students with preparation to take careers in specific fields or to continue advanced study in post-secondary programs. The courses are often project-based with outcomes aligning to skills needed for the workplace, not a multiple choice test. Students still memorize content, and they often take college preparatory courses. However, the rationale for this material is connected to the context of their courses.

A notable CTE example is the Career and Professional Education (CAPE) Academies in Florida. Implemented in 2006, the goal of the program was to address a statewide graduation rate of only 71%. The CAPE academies are small schools, often schools within schools, with a specific career focus. They are required to have an explicit industry partnership and provide industry certification, along with a college preparatory curriculum. Students in these programs earn credentials as nursing assistants, Adobe Certified Associates, or law enforcement trainees. (Disclosure: The author is employed by Adobe)

Too often, vocational programs have been thought of as alternatives to college. However Florida has shown that CTE programs can open the door to further education. After only five years, the graduation rate is 88.3% among students enrolled in CAPE academies (and 97.4% for those graduating with technical certifications). At the same time, these students graduate with a significantly higher GPA. While the average GPA in Florida is 2.5 the average among CAPE students earning industry certifications is 3.0.

The contrast between programs focused on testing and others like CTE that bring a more solid context to learning is clear. For our students, success and for the future of the U.S. economy, we need to retire outdated notions of vocational programs.
Cutting CTE programs that keep students engaged in school, while providing vital 21st Century skills, isn't sound financial planning for our schools, students, or our economy. CTE has proven successful at engaging students in learning by putting subject content into a real-world context - and we need to continue to fully fund these essential programs.
Please read the article is its entirety by clicking HERE.

Thanks Ann for sharing this article!

1 comment:

  1. I wrote a letter to Secretary Duncan about how Career and Technical Education is helping a diverse high school in the Chicago area get consistently ranked in the Top 5% of the nations high schools. The link to the letter is:


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